UK Championship Each-Way Tips: Perez can thrive on Euro return

Victor Perez
Victor Perez was superb after winning his first title
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After going close to a 100/1 outright winner last week, Matt Cooper returns with three each way selections for this week's action at the Belfry, with the Betfair Sportsbook paying seven places...

"His last eight starts in standard events this side the Atlantic have reaped one win, two seconds and in three of the other five starts he featured in the top six during the week."

Back Victor Perez each-way @ 25/1

Main Bet: Victor Perez each-way @ 25/1

It's highly doubtful that the Frenchman actually welcomed lockdown, but initially he might not have been too distraught by a break after a dizzying six months of action which, although it transformed his career, was getting the better of him.

The metamorphosis began in September last year when the 27-year-old's ranking category was insufficient for a start in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

A week later he carded a pair of 64s on the way to victory in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

On his next start, at the Italian Open, he opened with a 74 to lie outside the top 100 in the field, but that is where the hangover ended because he responded with a 68 to make the cut and from then on he refused to use his new status as a reason to cruise - instead he thrived on the possibilities it offered him.

He claimed a top 20 in the Open de France, added fourth in his World Golf Championship debut in China, made a play-off at the Turkish Airlines Open and a final top 20 of the season in the lucrative DP World Tour Championship.

This season opened in superb style with second at the Dubai Desert Classic and whilst the form maintained in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia - he was second after 54 holes in the former and the halfway leader in the latter - his final rounds began to hint at a little fatigue, seeing him drop out the top ten both times.

The pattern flipped at the WGC Mexico Championship, with an 81 to open followed by a decent 66 in round three.

Did the break do him any good? It would seem not given that he missed three cuts on the PGA Tour, but the very fact that he was now playing in America was in itself a huge contrast to last summer.

However his performance in the PGA Championship was a big improvement. In old fashioned numbers he ranked third in the field for Ball-Striking whilst in modern stats he rated second for Strokes Gained Putting.

It helped him log laps of 70-69-69-68 which earned T22nd and that ought to give him heart as he returns to the European Tour.

It's quite plausible to imagine Perez thriving this week, a little like a horse dropping down in class.

His last eight starts in standard events this side the Atlantic (i.e. not majors or WGC) have reaped one win, two seconds and in three of the other five starts he featured in the top six during the week.

Next Best: Jorge Campillo each-way @ 55/1

Jorge Campillo - 1280.jpg

The Spanish 34-year-old was probably not overwhelmed with joy when he discovered that the 2010 course at Celtic Manor was hosting back-to-back tournaments this summer.

In three previous visits to the track he had twice missed the cut and only managed T43rd in the exception.

When he shot 72-75 in the Celtic Classic he missed yet another weekend and in opening the Wales Open with a 75 he was staring a fourth in the face.

Then he found something and the rounds of 68-69-69 which followed were better than solid because they saw him race through the field from T99th to tied eighth.

And when contrasted with the 11 failures to break 70 that preceded them they not only look even better, but they hint that he's in decent nick.

Should we be concerned that he missed the cut in the PGA Championship before then? I'd argue not too greatly because he's yet to play the weekend at a major in five attempts.

Rather, I'd look at his record up against regular European Tour fields.

In his last 50 of those (not counting the Open) he has 12 top seven finishes, four of them third places, plus a pair of seconds and victories in the 2019 Trophee Hassan II and this year's Qatar Masters.

The fact that he had so many top three finishes to his name before claiming the win was becoming something of a burden, but the first win in Dar es Salam defied that pressure and the triumph in Doha came via a play-off of startling quality in which he had to produce birdies to first fend off, and then defeat, an inspired David Drysdale.

The new-found ability to cross the line, his strength in this quality of field and his form on a track he's never before enjoyed make his price enticing.

Final Bet: Dean Burmester each-way @ 66/1

Back in the early years of this century, when The Belfry was a regular stop for the European Tour, the last six winners here were Henrik Stenson, Angel Cabrera, Paul Casey, Johan Edfors, Lee Westwood and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

The last five of those names were ranked in the top 25 for Driving Distance in the season of their success and we know what Stenson has the capacity to hit a long ball, he just prefers his three-wood.

Whilst not the most reliable half-dozen putters in the long run, all of them had the capacity to drain plenty when the mood was on them.

Burmester comfortably ticks the first of those boxes, ranking third in the Driving Distance stats this season (indeed he's always been ranked in the top ten), so what of the putting?

In three of his last four seasons he's struggled with the flat-stick, but this year he is in fine fettle, ranking top 30 for both the two conventional categories (Putts per Round and Putt Average).

However, in Strokes Gained Putting, his improvement is exceptionally noteworthy: in 2018 he ranked 140th, in 2019 105th and this year? Second.

That strength has been apparent in the last three weeks with field rankings of second at Hanbury Manor and first in the two Welsh events.

A year ago he thrashed a 62 on his way to third in Sweden, he added another third in Dubai, he was third heading into the final round at Hanbury Manor (finishing sixth) and sixth after 54 holes last week (closing with 72 for T21st).

He's banging on the door of a second European Tour title and with a game suited to the challenge it could come this week at The Belfry.

Matt Cooper,

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